The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Seattle Chapter, is disheartened by the recent comments made by Washington State Senator Jim Honeyford of the 15th Legislative District, who said:
“The poor are more likely to commit crimes and colored more likely to be poor. I didn’t say anything other than that. And I believe that’s an accepted fact.” Honeyford followed this by stating he was not only referring to “the Negro or the Hispanic.”
JACL Seattle is disappointed with Sen. Honeyford’s use of these outdated terms, particularly when they are used during formal legislative proceedings. Honeyford’s remarks show a true need for more education for many in our state, elected and not, on how to speak about race and communities of color.
Sen. Honeyford’s remarks, while offensive and outdated, give us all an opportunity to engage in a discussion about race in our state. This discussion can be furthered by passage of SB 5752, regarding the creation of Racial Impact Statements. SB 5752 will allow broad-scale cooperation between agencies, experts, and communities of color to ensure our elected officials can engage in open, honest, and informed discussions on race in Washington.
JACL Seattle commends Sen. Honeyford for making a public apology, and the organization commends him for committing to better understand communities of color in his district and our state. Washington is an increasingly diverse place, making it even more important that our public servants work to understand the issues and values of all communities of color. The Japanese American Citizens League, aware of our responsibilities as the nation’s oldest and largest Asian-American civil rights organization, is committed to facilitating a greater understanding of communities of color, and promoting a world that honors diversity by respecting values of fairness, equality, and social justice.
JACL Seattle Chapter President